Our hero met Jancy8146 on the WorkerCubeFarm network, where he realizes that Jancy has it all figured out—the whole WhisperNet thing, the reason the people in the nice houses get ahead while the rest, like our hero, down in the Shanties barely get by. The WhisperNet allows them to connect at all points, not just through the usual devices.
Jancy and our hero have known each other for about five years, but they’d never met. Our hero refers to Jancy as “they,” indicating he’s unsure if Jancy is male or female. He joined WorkerCubeFarm when he got the factory job. Most of the people were there to bellyache about the government keeping them down, but there were some good people, like Jancy. When the network dissolved, he and Jancy stayed in touch until Jancy disappeared.
One day, an anonymous DM slipped by the spam filters. It extolled RealHouses and gave him links to an exclusive realtor. It was unsigned but ended with smiley faces. Our hero knows it is Jancy. Our hero wants—needs—a RealHouse.
Many years ago, a person I knew on a particular board had a sig picture with a dog at a keyboard. The tagline read, “On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Anonymity can pass for friendship and even, at points, intimacy. That’s part of what I see in this tale. Is Jancy male or female? Is the main character male or female? In the end, it’s not all that important. However, Jancy is not what he appears to be at first. After all, it wouldn’t be much of a story if they were, would it?
The story also pokes fun at the idea of getting ahead by leaving others behind.
I liked the twist at the end.
According to her blurb, author M. E. Garber is an itinerant speculative fiction who sadly has neither an AI nor a RealHouse, but at least her phone is pretty smart. Her blog mentions a home in Florida. She occasionally blogs at megarber.wordpress.com and tweets pics of her ridiculously photogenic dog @m_e_garber13.
I agree, her dog is adorable.
The story can be read here.
Title: “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse”
Author: M. E. Garber
First published: Daily Science Fiction, August 23, 2020